Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Time To Get A Job

The recent Israeli High Court decision to suspend payment of stipends to kollel dwellers cannot come as a huge shock to anyone.  While the government has to kowtow to Chareidi parties and their demands, the High Court, as dictatorial and demagogic an institution as you'll ever find in a democracy, does not have to care one whit about sectoral politics.  Free from any need to placate the populace their decisions can be made with impunity and, given that the court is staffed with secular anti-religious judges, as per the vision of former head judge Aharon Barak, it was a matter of time before this ruling came down.
Neither is the response of the Chareidi community leadership unexpected.  Like spoiled children who are used to getting their own way, the idea that another group of unaccountable societal leaders has power over them and can decide their fates is both inconceivable and intolerable.  It seems there are many in the Chareidi community who genuinely believe that the purpose of secular Zionism was to create a country dedicated to helping them build a society where no one has to work, and that taking away the stipends is an unacceptable disturbance to the natural order of the world.
I have long been of the opinion that kollels are necessary but only for the best and brightest, the future poskim of the Jewish people while the rest of our populace should be out and about in the labour market.  Even writers such as Rav Yonasan Rosenblum have noted that the "learn, don't earn" philosophy is an innovation created after the war to restock the depleted Yeshivish population and that eventually it has to run its course.  Unfortunately the same philosophy also elevated respect for its leadership into "Godol worship" and those gedolim have repeatedly said that "learn, don't earn" can never change.  Since they're supposedly infallible, they are now in a trap.  How can they say "well, times up, back to work everybody" if yesterday they were saying the opposite?
But what really bugs me is this attitude:
They think they'll keep cutting back on what the haredim supposedly take from them, but they don't realize that their raison d'etre is to sustain those who study Torah for a few pennies.
Really?  The whole reason God created chilonim is to support them?  Can they really believe that?  Yese, this is a variation on the old line: Our learning supports the State, but please!  There isn't a single kollel yungerleit who's sitting at his shtender right now and thinking to himself "Come on Yankl, shteig harder!  The State is counting on you!"
In the end this will be a tempest in a teacup.  The secular High Court may not care about what the Chareidim think but the government has to keep Shas and UTJ in the coalition.  A way will be found to funnel that money back into the kollels so this whole confrontation is for nothing.  But wouldn't it be nice if this was the kick in the arse that the Chareidi community needed to end "learn, don't earn" and rejoin productive society?

19 comments:

SJ said...

From rioting every week, the haredim themselves created a climate where this can happen.

It really is sick. They need sports to release their masculine energies. Not rioting.

SJ said...

By the way OTD made a post once in his blog that Sham-o is Islamic. The rat left me thinking that he's Jewish.

D said...

I would really like to believe that this will discourage the disinclination for chareidim to work. I don't think it will. We'll just get more meshulachim from Israel.

This bailout mentality is flooding the oceans, even in our American high schools. I'm a teacher at one such Bais Yaakov, and I can't even talk about what kind of insanity I'm dealing with right now. You wouldn't believe me.

Nosson Gestetner said...

Obviously I am an interested party, but my two cents worth is that from a "what would G-d want" angle, and not a Charedi angle, Israeli governments have being the single highest benefactor of limmud Torah over the years, and secular anti-religious judges have pulled the plug.

Is the budget earmarked to Charedim? I wouldn't say so - but stopping limmud Torah is wrong.

You can compare it to the State's establishment: Was it right to create a state (secular or religious) before Moshiach? We won't know. But now it's hear, we are obligated to sustain it.

Why should limmud Torah be different?

SJ said...

By the rat I mean Sham-O, not OTD. Just saying.

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

Nosson, I don't think anyone is against limmud Torah or opposing its importance to the ongoing existence of the State. You're right, there are good arguments on both sides as to the halachic permissibilty and imperative to create a Jewish state at this time in history but certainly a Jewish state must ascribe national importance to limmud Torah.
What people are opposed to is the idea that anybody, however poorly qualified, can apply to the State for money to "learn" full-time. There are many talmidei chachamim whose full-time learning is essential for the ongoing development of Torah for the sake of klal Yisrael but there are far more "bench warmers" who are simply avoiding their real-life obligations to support their family and society by hiding behind an open gemara.

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

And SJ, I don't care about your fights with Sham-O. I just delete his idiocies as well as OTD's when they annoy me enough and move on with my life. Perhaps you should do the same.

SJ said...

ROFL Garnel, already did. XD

SJ said...

OTD don't bother me though. I don't care about your fights with OTD. XD

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

I don't fight with OTD. He fights with me and I ignore him hoping he'll get on with things.

Nosson Gestetner said...

Although my entire premise is absurd, why should aptitude be a limitation on people applying to a kollel? If someone's a moron who hangs around making far too many coffees, then fine, he shouldn't be learning. But for the most part, the people in kollel are happy with their lives spent learning Torah and cleaving to Hashem, meager as their means may be.

Read this story http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2010/06/little-chizuk.html about aptitude not being a barrier.
And who would be the judge of aptitude? You only know if it was worth it at the end, no?

E-Man said...

Who cares if they are happy? The way kollel works is that the people in the kollel give back to the community, that is why they exist. The local kollel here always has classes and chavrusas with Baal Habayises. That is their whole point and that is why they are supported by the community. A community needs people who learn and KNOW torah. How could a kollel guy who is inept, even though he loves learning, benefit anyone? And why should anyone support that kollel guy?

Kollel is made so that every community will have a group of people that are able to teach Torah to the people who have to work and don;t have as much time to master and know the Torah. This is the point of all the community kollels around the US.

However, in school, like what this story is talking about, then everyone should be learning Torah.

Garnel Ironheart said...

> But for the most part, the people in kollel are happy with their lives spent learning Torah and cleaving to Hashem, meager as their means may be

The problem is that folks in kollel don't live in isolation. While they may be happy in their meager lifestyle, their kids are wearing used clothes, they're not going to the dentist or doctor on a regular basis, they're not getting as much high quality food as they should to grow up healthy, and it goes on and on. It's one thing to live a life of personal sacrifice but the decision to purposely live like this also affects the entire family. Does a man have the right to do that?

D said...

"Kollel is made so that every community will have a group of people that are able to teach Torah to the people who have to work and don;t have as much time to master and know the Torah. This is the point of all the community kollels around the US. "

Exactly. And unfortunately, Israel's learning system is nothing like the kollel system here. There's no outreach to a community, there's no real purpose other than to learn Torah. Don't get me wrong, learning Torah is valued pursuit. However, even Talmud states that it's important to teach your child how to be able to make a living. We have ignored these principles in search of some higher purpose, but this higher purpose does little to alleviate the extreme poverty.

Every day, we have about 10 meshulachim knocking at our door. Most are women now, by the way. And these meshulachim have the same story. Lots of children, no money, weddings and bar mitzvahs coming up. And this is where nothing has really happened to their family! There are people out there with genuine catastrophes in their families, and yet they're outnumbered by the amount of people knocking at the door because they couldn't be bothered to earn a profession. They're not working, and yet they spend their time traveling to different cities to obtain money.

I don't know. Something's broken.

However, Garnel:
"t's one thing to live a life of personal sacrifice but the decision to purposely live like this also affects the entire family. Does a man have the right to do that?"

Yes. It's not a tragedy for a child to be wearing old or used clothes, and to be poor. That's not the issue. People are allowed to choose poverty. But you can't be upset that you chose a poverty lifestyle, and expected a middle class lifestyle to result.

OTD said...

>It's one thing to live a life of personal sacrifice but the decision to purposely live like this also affects the entire family. Does a man have the right to do that?

Of course! What's a little suffering in this world compared to all the riches you can POSSIBLY imagine in the next world?!?!?!?!?

David said...

"They think they'll keep cutting back on what the haredim supposedly take from them, but they don't realize that their raison d'etre is to sustain those who study Torah for a few pennies."

This comment actually surprised me. Mind you, I was not surprised that Shteinman would think it-- I was just taken aback that he chose to say it in such a public way. I'm sure it's easy enough to convince Kollel boys (or almost anyone else, for that matter), that the whole world revolves around them; I should have thought, however, that someone of Shteinman's alleged brilliance would have figured out that the argument "you should give me money, because that's the only reason God put you on the earth" is not a real winner for most folks.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Remember that what we know about this situation and what Rav Shteinman knows are two different things.
We have access to news from countelss sources as well as opinion pieces representing different groups. We know lots about the situation, maybe too much at times.
Rav Shteinman has access to his askanim who essentially control his access to knowledge about the outside world. He only knows what they want him to know.
So for all we know he was told "Those bad chilonim are persecuting us again" and not much more. How else would you expect him to respond?

Anonymous said...

if i had to choose if you or rav wosner is right i would choose rav wosner

David said...

Garnel,
That's become your standard defense of the (so-called) gedolim-- i.e., they're so completely ill-informed and naive, that they're really nothing but hapless tools in the hands of manipulative askanim who feed them opinions the way a caregiver feeds tapioca to a senile dementia patient. Assuming this to be true, then these men scarcely merit the term "gadol." On the other hand, if it's not true, and these guys really do say these things on their own based on the same facts to which everyone else in the world has access, well, they scarecely merit the term "gadol."